It was Jan 31st, 30 years ago.

On that cold winter night, I headed out to Ottawa to meet my blind date – someone I had briefly talked with over the phone. It was more like an arranged date through a dating agency, a precursor to today’s online dating. This was truly a blind date as we had no photos of each other. And this was pre phone apps and the internet as we know it today. My initial intention for this date was to just go out, meet with this guy, have a nice meal and get back home to enjoy the rest on my night.

I’d been a single mom for the last four years and had resolved that I’d be raising my son on my own, running my business and enjoying my life, alone if I needed to. I’d met several men in the past and struggled with how most of them had no clue at the level of responsibility involved in raising a kid. They complained about my long working hours (I’m a single mom, with my own business – what did you expect?) and not having much free time.

When I first spoke with Bernard, I was somewhat flippant about meeting him. I expected him to be like the other men I’d met. What made me say yes to this date was he’s willingness to say “Hey, if you’re too busy to go out for dinner, maybe we’re not meant to see each other.” I liked that about him. Direct and to the point.

We both arrived at the Chinese restaurant at the same time. Perfect! On time. We looked at each other to check if this was who we were to meet. Remember, we had no pictures, only brief descriptions of what we’d be wearing. “Hi! I’m Bernard. Are you Claudette?” So far, so good.

I was impressed when he opened the door for me, giving way for me to go in first, took my coat and hung it in the closet. Great manners! More brownie points. The best part was when he pulled out my chair for me to sit. It might seem minor to some, but manners showed me how Bernard treated people, at least his dates. In my book, that was important.

Our Deal Breakers

We started with small talk such as what we did as work, our kids, any interests and hobbies. The more we talked, the more I liked him. But I also didn’t want to waste any of our time dating if we had some major differences that would become deal breakers.

For example, Bernard’s deal breakers were:

  • someone who smoked (I’d quite 6 years ago)
  • anyone who took drugs (does Tylenol count?)
  • a heavy drinker (I could hardly finish one beer)
  • and chronic tardiness (this was definitely something I had to work on)

His priorities were his daughters, his family and going on vacation (My kind of guy.)

My deal breakers were:

  • an overbearing and controlling person
  • someone who was disrespectful and aggressive
  • a person who watched sports of any kind (Yep! That was my thing)

The point here is that we knew what we didn’t want in a partner. That was important because neither of us wanted to spend any time trying to convince the other to be someone they were not. You either you have it or you don’t.
We were pretty upfront with each other. I figured, I had nothing to lose. If it didn’t work out, I would have enjoyed a nice dinner.

Here are samples of questions I asked Bernard on our very first date:

  • Why did you get a divorce?
  • What’s your take on family?
  • How do you spend your free time?
  • How do you envision an ideal relationship?
  • What are your aspirations for your work life?
  • Tell me about your daughters? Your mother?
  • Where do you plan to live in one year? Five years?
  • Do you have issues with a woman working outside the home?

I asked A LOT of questions and so did Bernard. I wanted to know as much as I could from a curiosity’s perspective. Every question I asked lead to another one. And I was liking what I was hearing.

We enjoyed our conversation so much that we closed the restaurant and moved our talk to IP Looney’s, not too far away. When I got into his car, it was spotless and looked very hi-tech. This triggered some concerns in me. Some of my past relationships had spend so much time working on their vehicles that by the end of the day, they were too tired to focus on me. Was he that kind of guy?

So, I asked him about his car. He assured me that although he loved a very clean car, he wasn’t into spending his time polishing or fine tuning it. In fact, he spent little time other than regular maintenance on his car. More brownie points.

The evening went well. We talked about a lot of things such as our work, what we loved to do, some of our dreams, goals, and aspirations. Bernard did let me know that he didn’t dance at all. A disappointment for me as I loved dancing. Well, that wasn’t a deal breaker for me and so I let it go. He loved listening to news, I didn’t. Still those weren’t deal breakers. And once more, we closed the place.

By the time we said goodbye, it was close to 5 am. My instincts told me that he could be the man for me, someone I could see myself spending the rest of my life with. I had no idea of the journey ahead or the challenges we would face.

This memory of our first date reminds me of the dreams we shared, the aspirations we held and the hoped to be happy. Whenever we argued, fought, or hurt one another, we’d go back to that feeling and memory of our first date, of what we stood for and what we believed in.

Our relationship hasn’t been perfect. We’re not perfect. Not everyone agreed with the actions we took, the decisions we made.

What we are is human and willing to hold each other accountable, to respect who we are and have each other’s back. We’ve reviewed and refined what it means to be together, what legacy we want to leave our kids and grandkids and those watching us. Each day, we are willing to learn something about each other, to continue to be curious as to what the other is doing.

Do you remember the first time you met your partner? What was it in him/her that sparked your interest? Do you remember your first conversations?

I’d love to hear how you two met, some highlight of your first date and how did you move forward from there.


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